Cara Lee Simpson is a Literary Agent in the Books Department where she represents literary, book club and general fiction. She moved to PFD in 2021, where she is actively developing her client list. Her authors have been international number one bestsellers, won the ABIA General Fiction Book of the Year, The Ngaio Marsh Awards, The Polari Prize and a Betty Trask Award, and have been shortlisted or longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger, the Dublin Literary Award, the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Portico Prize. She also judges the adult category of the Queer Fiction Prize at PFD.
What I'm looking for...
I am on the lookout for general fiction, immersive book club novels and literary fiction. I’m drawn to smart, clean prose or a lyrical voice, books with an interesting form or structure, and character-driven fiction with unusual and absorbing protagonists. I am editorially focused and looking for career writers who I can work with to develop their craft over multiple novels, so the quality of the writing itself is always key when taking on a new client.
I generally lean towards fiction that is accessible to a wide readership while remaining beautifully written, and I’m always interested in stories that explore gender, race, class, sexuality, and those which offer a profound look at relationship dynamics. I welcome submissions that are ambitious in what they set out to do – whether that’s defying genre, bringing a new perspective to stories we think we already know, or taking a deep dive into the mind of a particular character.
Aside from my own authors, enduring favourites include Kazuo Ishiguro, Claire Keegan, Tessa Hadley, Hanya Yanagihara and Maggie O’Farrell. I love writing that plays with form such as Lanny by Max Porter, and the irreverent and dark humour of Ottessa Moshfegh and Raven Leilani. Some other recent contemporary fiction I enjoyed: Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano, The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller, Boy Parts by Eliza Clark, Yellowface by R.F. Huang, How to Build a Boat by Elaine Feeney and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin.
Right now, I would love to find a traditional intergenerational family or friendship story (contemporary or historical), something sweeping in scope with a richly imagined setting, exploring an unusual event or unexpected setup. I am particularly keen to read books by writers still marginalised by mainstream publishing.
I would also love to find something speculative like Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam. Something that takes an unusual scenario, slightly removed from the everyday, through which regular human relationships play out in a heightened way. Similarly, I’d like to find something quirky like The Vegetarian by Han Kang, Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder, and Woman, Eating by Claire Kohda.
I work on a select number of narrative non-fiction titles and am interested in memoirs and real-life stories, nature writing, and social commentaries told through an interesting lens and with a strong sense of personal journey. Books I loved in this area include Wild by Cheryl Strayed or The Salt Path by Raynor Winn, The Outrun by Amy Liptrot, The Snow Geese by William Fiennes, and Educated by Tara Westover. I’d also like to find something as playfully clever as Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood.
I am open to submissions from international writers. As well as developing home grown UK, Irish and European talent, I also represent clients in North America, Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand – and am keen to develop the international side of my list where a book is first written in the English language.
Adult submissions only please.